Breast reduction surgery, or reduction mammoplasty, may be performed for aesthetic reasons, but it is also commonly performed to relieve back pain and restore wellbeing. Overly large breasts often result in shoulder, back and neck pain and make it difficult for women to exercise. The goal of this procedure is reducing the size of the breasts and reshaping them so they are proportionate to the body and no longer a source of pain.
This procedure removes excess breast tissue and skin, particularly along the sides of the breast, while leaving tissue in the middle to maintain the patient’s desired amount of cleavage. The areolas are usually reduced in size to make them uniform with the rest of the breast with nipples positioned higher on the breast for a more youthful teardrop shape.
The Breast Reduction Procedure
This procedure typically takes three to five hours to complete and usually involves three incisions. The incisions depend on the size of the breasts, the degree of sagging and how the nipple-areola complex is positioned. A periareolar incisions (donut incision) may be made around the border of the areolas, or a “lollipop” incision may be made around the areolas and vertically down to the breast crease.
Dr. Shapiro may also use an anchor incisions, which involves an incision around the areolas, vertically down to the crease and then along the crease. Dr. Shapiro will discuss the best incision pattern to achieve the desired results during your consultation.
After incisions are made, excess skin and breast tissue will be removed. If the breasts are asymmetrical, more tissue may be removed from one breast than the other. The skin and tissue will then be reshaped and the nipple will be moved to a higher position.
Drains are usually placed in the breasts to prevent a build-up of fluid. Incisions will then be closed.
In some cases, liposuction can also be used along the sides of the breast, creating a tighter contour to the sides and breasts. Liposuction makes the breast stand on its own, rather than the lovely contour being overwhelmed by extra fat and skin along the sides. For some women, liposuction alone can achieve the desired results. This option is typically best for patients with fatty breasts who do not need to correct sagging and need only minor to moderate reduction.
This procedure has a very high satisfaction rate, even though it leaves scars. Many women choose to get a reduction because they have difficulty finding clothing that fits properly or even have difficulty breathing due to the heaviness of the breasts. A reduction can not only relieve pain but restore self-confidence.
Breast Reduction Recovery
Most patients feel discomfort after surgery, although Dr. Shapiro will prescribe medication to keep you from feeling pain. Always take medication as prescribed and do not wait until pain becomes severe. This pain medication works best when taken as prescribed during discomfort.
You may see a change in the size of your breasts, but you will have significant swelling for the first week or two. Final results may not be visible for weeks or months after most swelling subsides. Any drains that were placed will be removed at the first follow-up appointment, typically one week after surgery. The breasts will feel and you will feel sore and stuff for a few days. Not all patients develop bruising, but any bruising should dissipate on its own within a week or two.
Sleep with at least two pillows under your upper back and head to keep the upper torso elevated. This will relieve pressure on the healing breasts and reduce both pain and swelling. You should begin walking soon after you return home to help prevent swelling and blood clots, although exercise and strenuous activity should be avoided for three to four weeks or longer. Most patients regain full range of motion within 6 to 8 weeks, although most can return to work and light activity a week after the procedure.
Results of this procedure are permanent, unless you lose or gain a significant amount of weight or become pregnant. Natural aging and the effects of gravity will still be at work and cause your breasts to sag over time, however.
Are You a Candidate?
Women in good physical health who have realistic expectations for the outcome of the procedure may be a good candidate. It may be time to consider a reduction procedure if your breasts are too large for your body and cause shoulder, neck or back pain, if you have heavy breasts with nipples that point downward, if one breast is significantly larger than the other or if you are unhappy with the size of your breasts.